Thursday, April 24, 2014
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欧洲如何拯救欧洲

伦敦—在上周四的罗马会议上,欧元区四大经济体领导人就迈向银行联盟和温和刺激方案以补充欧元区新“财政契约”的步骤达成了一致。这些步骤还不足够。

德国总统默克尔拒绝了所有旨在纾解西班牙和意大利风险溢价过高现状的方案。结果,即将到来的欧盟峰会可能以失败告终,这很可能会引起致命后果,因为欧元区其他国家将无法建立起足够强大的防火墙免受希腊退出所带来的冲击。

即便能够避免致命灾难,债权国和债务国之间的分歧也可能会加剧,“外围国”将失去重塑竞争力的机会,因为游戏规则对它们不利。这也许符合德国的狭隘私利,但会让欧洲远离启发人民想象力、促进欧洲一体化数十年的开放社会。这会让德国成为帝国中心,而“外围国”将永远低人一等。这就是默克尔和绝大多数德国人的立场。

默克尔指出,动用欧洲央行来解决欧元区国家的财政问题是不符合规则的。此话不假。欧洲央行行长德拉吉的说法也大致相同。事实上,即将到来的峰会忽视了一项重要日程:欧洲财政机关(European Fiscal Authority,EFA)。EFA可以与欧洲央行合作,做欧洲央行本身无法做到的事。

特别是,EFA可以成立一个债务削减基金(Debt Reduction Fund)——由默克尔经济顾问委员会提出并得到德国社会民主党和绿党支持的欧洲偿债协议(European Debt Redemption Pact)改进版。为了让意大利和西班牙实施各自的结构性改革,作为交换,债务削减基金将收购并持有两国存量债券的大部分。购买资金可以通过发行欧洲债券(European Treasury bill,即成员国共同承担的各种义务)筹集,而廉价融资的好处则由受助国接受。

欧洲债券将获得当局的零风险评级,成为欧洲央行回购操作最高质量抵押品。银行系统急切需要无风险资产。目前银行在欧洲央行存有持有着超过7000亿欧元的剩余流动性,每年只能获得0.25%的利息。这保证了利率在1%或以下的欧洲债券已经有了现成的大规模市场。

如若参与国事后没能遵守承诺,EFA可以课以罚款或其他惩罚措施,程度依违反承诺的严重度而定,如此,强制执行就不会沦为永远不会触发的核打击了。这将会有效地防止道德风险。比如,意大利新政府将发现,想撇清现任蒙蒂政府所做出的承诺是十分困难的。大约一半的意大利债务将通过欧洲债券融资——这相当于削减了意大利债券的平均期限——新政府将更加积极的相应EFA所施加的任何惩罚措施。

在经过适当的时期后,参与过将进入合理设计、不会影响增长的债务削减计划。这将成为完整的政治联盟和引入欧元债券的序幕。当然,欧洲债券的发行需要德国联邦议院的首肯,但这与德国宪法法院任何联邦议院批准的承诺都必须规定时间和规模限制的要求相符。

将这一方案转变为给出兼具长期政治联盟目标和财政及银行联盟路线图的政治宣言还为时未晚。在该宣言的指引下,欧元区财政援助基金,即欧洲稳定机制(ESM)可以立刻接管欧洲央行所持有的希腊债券;欧洲央行可以开始买入西班牙和意大利债券;而意大利和西班牙可以实施满足偿债基金条件所要求的结构性改革。

这一日程将立刻让金融市场舒一口气。同样重要的是,它还能改变欧洲的政治动态,从负向转变为正向。

主要障碍在于德国政客死抓“没门”模式不动摇。默克尔坚持认为应该让政治联盟先于完全的财政和银行联盟。这既不现实,也不合理。三大联盟必须齐头并进、逐步实现。如果德国联邦议院代表德国选民点了头,那么就不会有阻碍EFA成立的条约或宪法性条款;否则的话,当初ESM也就不会成立了。如果欧洲其他国家在这一方案下联合起来,而德国联邦议院一言否决,那么必须由德国承担所有金融和政治后果。

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  1. CommentedKir Komrik

    Thanks again for offering some great insight in to the problems in the EU

    Mr. Soros proposes "... a European Fiscal Authority (EFA) that, in partnership with the ECB, could do what the ECB cannot do on its own".

    and then,

    "Should a participating country subsequently fail to abide by its commitments, the EFA could impose a fine or other penalty, which would be proportionate to the violation, thereby preventing enforcement from becoming a nuclear option that can never be exercised. This would provide strong protection against moral hazard."

    imo, bingo.

    While it isn't everything I would want, it is going in the right direction. EU needs a General Federation (kirkomrik.wordpress.com) as a legal entity to guide it.

    I am frankly encouraged to know that there is someone like Mr. Soros in the role and position he holds.

    - kk

  2. Commentedpeter fairley

    Deficit reduction fund? Can you send the life insurance guy back in to explain that please? I die or get hurt and someone else gets money? I am going to get hurt no matter what? Why I gotta fund? AND reduce what they owe me, my pension fund, my bank, my life insurance co. my country? Can I vote for somebody besides Merkel soon?

  3. Portrait of Asgeir B. Torfason

    CommentedAsgeir B. Torfason

    It looks like Merkel just looked like giving in on the meeting last Friday. According the Wolfgang Munchau she was the real winner, and if there will be no eurozone bonds then there will be no eurozone, see: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/960fb910-c1d7-11e1-b76a-00144feabdc0.html
    So it will be very interesting to read the next article by Soros on this issue here, hopefully soon.

  4. CommentedGiles Conway-Gordon

    It is sad, and more than a little ironic, to see George Soros bewail the abandonment by the European Union of the inspiring goal of an 'open society' while strongly advocating political union (along with fiscal and banking union) as a solution to the present Eurozone crisis.
    The structures he proposes, besides constituting only a short-term financial fix for the deep-seated economic disparities which lie at the base of the crisis, would be a further and decisive step towards the systematic suppression of democratic accountability in Europe in favour of an authoritarian bureaucratic tyranny. He should perhaps reread The Open Society and Its Enemies.

  5. CommentedStepan February

    Germany is allergic to grand pan-european vision because of the looming reductio ad hitleritum. Thus, Germany is not willing to support Europe beyond its parochial self-interest. Its a delicate balancing act, but I think Merkel is playing it right. Europe will fall into Germany's lap one way or another, no need to fret. Just wait until they volunteer to submit.

  6. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    My rough-cut calculation shows that from 1998 to 2009 France's public debt increased about 90 percent and GDP by about 80 percent. For someone like President Hollande to agree to the Soros proposal would be to bet against his own economic structure, against his long-term trendline.

    So underneath Hollande's "growth agenda" is an assumption of growing the GDP through additional debt.

    To go with something like the Soros proposal would be for Hollande to plan on achieving economic results significantly more "conservative" than anything done by Sarkozy, who presided over a great expansion of France's public debt for a so-so increase in GDP.

    So what many European leaders are talking about is a new politics to finance the old economic model. No one really seems to be talking about new economic models. And that is what the "sovereignty" argument is really about: the old economic models are deeply embedded in the sovereignty of the national states and they don't want to reconfigure.

  7. CommentedJohn Leontop

    Dear most respected Mr. Soros (and breaker of the Bank of England),

    Thank you very much for your profound advice on managing the Eurozone.

    Nevertheless, I wonder how Mrs. Merkel could reply to the following questions from her electorate:

    Why did we bring all the sacrifices of the Schröder reforms when we were called the sick man of Europe having no real wage increases for the last ten years?

    Why do we have export surpluses? Are we so liked by everybody else that they bend over backwards to please us by buying some of our products?

    Why do we have to wait until the age of 67 to enjoy the fruits of our labor in old age whereas Monsieur le Président wants his people to enjoy le Midi when they are sixty?

    Why should we pay for bankers that have been making tons of bonuses between 2004 and 2007 (and before that) and now come back to socialize the losses?

    Do free market rules not apply to financial institutions especially banks?

    Would it not be imperative to solve the „Too big to fail“ issue?

    Could we not do away with a lot of the economists, advisers, regulators, bureaucrats etc. by letting the free market work its way? Who pays for all theses people anyway?

    Why should we bail out investors and their agents who have neglected their most basic function of credit analysis and thereby their fiduciary responsibility?

    Why should we have any trust in a debt reduction fund imposing fines on a country not abiding by its rules when we have experienced the Maastricht treaty to have been blatantly broken by our own politicians and the French government?

    Is the rule of law still applicable or how do we explain the state financing by the ECB (please refer to its Charter)?

    Why is it that to the best of my knowledge all the most prominent and successful companies that have evolved during the last ten years and that provide unemployment have not originated in Europe?

    I have spent sleepless nights to find an answer to these questions, unfortunately to no avail.

    Maybe you could help me.

    Yours truly

    John Leontop

    PS I think in the name of human solidarity you should grant me unlimited access to your credit card

  8. CommentedFlip Bibi

    Germany can do whatever it wants. It's first obligation is to the German people, and then Europe; and you are asking it to do the opposite. When a privet citizen asks for a loan from company X, the individual has to abide by the rules set by the company. Germany has done the same thing. You are asking the Germans to be responsible of the irresponsability of others. Bah! Since WWI Germany has been bashed, now here you are calling Germany to stop holding Europe hostage. Or is it Mr. Soros that you are banking on another Black Wednesday but for the Germans and not the Sterling again? You can't get the loan from Germany and set your own rules to pay them back. The division between creditor and debtor has existed since Feudalism and it will never stop.
    What needs to be done is that the EU needs to stop think about what Germany has done and focus of creating a new set of laws that are enforceable and realistic. What has been done has been done, now it is time to think what can be done if this was to happen again. You state that "..participating countries would enter into debt-reduction programs tailored in a way.." you are calling for regulations that would be different across Europe, thus one country will think that it is being taken advantage over another. If you treat Greece harshly, you can't treat France, with a white glove. Either it is the same for all or not worth. Your call of "European unity" conflicts with your idea of tailoring solutions.

  9. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    Very good in so far as it goes. Europe has tried market manipulation in the common agricultural policy. Setting the price in an open market by intervening at a set price point. This was possible because the price set was not unreasonable or was not seen to be. Also, the material good were agricultural and resistant to 'virtualisation' as they cannot be conjured out of nowhere.

    Not surprising that some of the more outlandish comments refer to taxation. The lightening of taxation on the most mobile capital and the great widening of the wealth gap between the ultra rich and the great majority of humanity over the last quarter century is one of the factors involved in this 'crisis'. A concerted world wide Tobin tax might be a sop in the direction of fairness but to deal with the fundamental problem we require less inequality. Our needs may be met with only a fraction of our productive capacity. This has profound meaning for growth. A paradigm shift will be imposed upon us if we do not choose to make it ourselves. We must distribute work, wealth, power, responsibility and resources more equally. Survival demands it, perhaps the survival of those who do not feel the danger.

  10. CommentedGary Marshall

    Hello Mr. Soros,

    In conventional economics you are right -- Greece and the other troubled nations have no good options. But in progressive economics, they have a very good option: the abolition of Taxation. Absurd on the face of it, but not so when examined.

    Below is the very simple proof for this measure.

    If you or anyone can find the flaw, I shall be more than happy to give the reward of $50,000. None have yet been successful.

    Its not the end of the world, but a new beginning.

    Enjoy!

    ####

    The costs of borrowing for a nation to fund public expenditures, if it borrows solely from its resident citizens and in the nation's currency, is nil.

    Why? Because if, in adding a financial debt to a community, one adds an equivalent financial asset, the aggregate finances of the community will not in any way be altered. This is simple reasoning confirmed by simple arithmetic.

    The community is the source of the government's funds. The government taxes the community to pay for public services provided by the government.

    Cost of public services is $10 million.

    Scenario 1: The government taxes $10 million.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    No community government debt, no community
    government IOU.

    Scenario 2: The government borrows $10 million from solely community lenders at a certain interest rate.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    Community government debt: $10 million;
    Community government bond: $10 million.

    At x years in the future: the asset held by the community (lenders) will be $10 million + y interest. The deferred liability claimed against the community (taxpayers) will be $10 million + y interest.

    The value of all community government debts when combined with all community government IOUs or bonds is zero for the community. It is the same $0 combined worth whether the community pays its taxes immediately or never pays them at all.

    So if a community borrows from its own citizens to fund worthy public expenditures rather than taxes those citizens, it will not alter the aggregate finances of the community or the wealth of the community any more than taxation would have. Adding a financial debt and an equivalent financial asset to a community will cause the elimination of both when summed.

    Whatever financial benefit taxation possesses is nullified by the fact that borrowing instead of taxation places no greater financial burden on the community.

    However, the costs of Taxation are immense. By ridding the nation of Taxation and instituting borrowing to fund public expenditures, the nation will shed all those costs of Taxation for the negligible fee of borrowing in the financial markets and the administration of public
    debt.

    Regards,
    Gary Marshall

  11. CommentedAnton Van Boxtel

    A bit of a nitpicky kind of comment, but I've heard the word "risk premium" being misused a little too often in the context of bond yields. If the yield spread is a compensation for the expected loss from a country's possible default, there is no risk premium. Saying there is - and I'm not saying there isn't - a risk premium means that you believe the yield spread above "safe" bonds is more than the expected loss from a country's default. Saying these premiums are "excessive" means that they're higher than could be expected given a normal degree of risk aversion. Nonetheless, I don't disagree with the author that debt mutualization is possibly the only way out, given the fact that the periphery economies are essentially credit rationed.

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